A hidden world of wild plants has always shared the London beneath our feet and the exhibition Wild City explores the way these plants have adapted and continue to thrive at the margins of the way we live in our cities. Based on an eight-year survey, the exhibition at Town House, Spitalfields, charts the changes to the flora of the City of London over time.
The surveys originally started in the 1960s, when bombsites were still widespread, but plants that thrived in that rubble continue to survive in pockets that exist today. Artist and local resident Liz Davis has worked with the Natural History Museum to catalogue them: the date and location of every specimen is mapped and the plant is pressed and preserved with its roots, flowers and seeds. The Natural History Museum already holds over 150 of Liz’s specimens, to which the ones in this exhibition will be added. Many of these plants have existed in the City for hundreds of years and to illustrate this an example of an Anglo Saxon ‘Nine Herbs Charm’ will be made from plants found as part of the survey and included in the exhibition.
Seeds remain viable in the ground for years and as buildings are demolished and rebuilt the plants briefly flower, bursting into life when exposed to sunlight and water. The bombsites of World War II provided a wonderful example of this, with a rare example surviving in Aldgate until recently. Through a variety of exhibits, photographs and maps the amazing natural world that exists under our feet will be revealed in Wild City at Town House.